Jazz House Kids: Building Harmony in Schools

Our in-school programs are off to their biggest start ever this fall, serving 23 percent more students than we did last year. Every day, Jazz House Kids helps close the gap in music education in schools, spending more than 1,600 hours annually in underserved communities. Here’s a look at what’s happening in the 2014-15 school year:

Jazz House Kids Music Club

When we launched The Jazz House Kids Music Club in 2011, we aimed to increase the number of Newark Public School students learning music, improve their skills, and act as a feeder program to NPS high school music programs.
Boy, have we! The Jazz House Kids Music Club now serves 380 students at five Newark Public Schools and at Newark’s Link Community School. Each student receives more than 110 hours of direct contact time through weekly small group lessons and community concert performances. One of our Abington Avenue School students raves, “What I like most about the Jazz House Music Club is that I get to be myself. I get to do what I want in music, improvise, and especially I get to have fun.”

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, 95 percent of students told us they learned how to improvise. A whopping 100 percent said they practice at home, with 95 percent practicing one hour or more weekly and 19 percent practicing five hours or more. Most of them also say they plan to continue playing their instruments in high school. Way to go, Music Club musicians!

Underscoring the importance of this program, 82% of the students indicated they do not take music lessons outside of school, yet 86% said they would like to.

The Jazz House Kids Music Club would not be possible without the support of the Prudential, Rivendell and Victoria foundations, along with generous individuals.

Spotlight on John F. Kennedy School

We’re expanding our transformative Vocal Summit Jazz Choir at the John F. Kennedy School, an ungraded Newark Public School for special-needs students, and launching an instrumental music program there using the Pascal Norge method.

The program uses modified instruments such as a three-string guitar, two-string bass, bells and rhythm instruments. Both are supported through generous funding from the Silver Family Foundation.

Students in Vocal Summit Jazz Choir receive more than 70 hours of technique, choral rehearsal, music theory, field trips and performances.

Both programs serve students with autism or other physical or cognitive disabilities. The joy we see as we hear them perform is always a highlight of our year!

Instrumental Residency Program

New for the 2014-2015 academic year, Jazz House Kids teaching artist Oscar Perez brings his band, Nuevo Comienzo, to the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy as part of a six-week Instrumental Residency Program. Funded by Chamber Music America, this multi-faceted program provides exciting opportunities for students in their school jazz programs to challenge themselves and develop new skills by working with world-class professional musicians. A three-week Instrumental Residency Program also is slated for Colonia High School, John F. Kennedy High School and Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge Township, NJ.

Give an Instrument – Build a Musician Program

Being in the school band is impossible without access to an instrument! Through the help of our generous funders Janet Shapiro and Phillip Byrd, Jazz House Kids puts instruments in the hands of Township of Union students who otherwise would not be able to participate in their school music programs due to economic barriers. In School 2